Issues & Insights
President Biden accuses MAGA movement of "semi-fascism" while delivering a speech while deploying his own "fascist-lite" symbolism. Screen grab from 6ABC News, via YouTube.

If You’re Going To Use The Word ‘Fascism,’ Learn What It Means

A couple of days ago, we posted a satirical piece, call it a sati-torial, with a list of headlines we’re never going to see. One of them said “Democrats Realize They’ve Been Using The Word ‘Fascist’ Wrong For Decades.” There’s a lot of truth in there. The way the political left tosses around that word shows that they have no idea what it means.

Or maybe they do. And they’re intentionally applying it wrongly because they’re driven by their depravity.

Either way, we’ve been hearing it for decades. And its use has accelerated in recent years along with the irresponsible usage of “white supremacy” and “white privilege.”

Exactly two months ago, Clinton Treasury Secretary Robert Reich wrote a column for the loose-screw Guardian under the headline “​​The modern Republican party is hurtling towards fascism.”

The Independent, another British propaganda sheet, in 2021 ran the rantings of columnist Patrick Cockburn, who declared Republicans were replicating “the structure of fascist movements in Europe in the 1920s and 1930s.”

In a bizarre speech last summer heavy with Third Reich overtones, Joe Biden said “the entire philosophy that underpins” Trump-supporting Republicans is “like semi-fascism.” His press secretary the next day said “It is very clear” that “what MAGA Republicans have done” fits “the definition of fascism.”

Years earlier, George W. Bush had “come to embody the f-word” – fascist – “for a whole generation of activists.”

Our Power Line friend Steven Hayward was prescient in 2008 when he said “the left will go on deploying ‘fascism’ as a conversation-stopper against conservatives, even though the term ought to be associated overwhelmingly with” the political left.

Though they make their claims with a stomach-turning self-assuredness, never in their ravings do the accusers point out even approximately what fascism is, or what fascists do. But, for the record, here’s what fascists don’t do:

They don’t campaign on platforms that endorse tax cuts and deregulation – then once elected follow up tax-cut and deregulation agendas.

They don’t advocate for limited government.

They don’t support increasing individual liberty.

They don’t believe in free markets or property rights.

They don’t make law by fiat, using a “pen and phone” to bypass the constitutional process when it gets in their way.

Fascists don’t believe in giving parents and students choices in education, civil society nor open discussions.

It’s true that Republicans and conservatives often are unable to move their limited-government – and anti-fascist – agendas through Washington and state houses around the country. And part of that is their disinclination to fight hard enough. (They don’t want to be called fascists by the Democrats and the state media.) But they are also stymied by the left, which itself is fascist.

It should be obvious that all these charges of fascism are projection, an effort by the left to cover its true identity. In his tirade, Cockburn was correct when he said “fascist leaders may use democratic processes to obtain office, but once there, their instinct is to pull up the ladder and let nobody else climb up it.”

But he directed it at the wrong side. That is exactly what the Democrats have been working for over the long term. Their political goal is to establish unchallengeable power. We made this point before when we said:

“The left, which has marched through our institutions, won’t rest until the civil society we have flourished in has been replaced with a political society. It craves a societal breakdown, to bury the political and social norms that stand in its path to unchallengeable power.”

The truth that the left tries to hide is that fascism was a socialist creation. Italian politician Giovanni Gentile, known as the actual founding philosopher of fascism, was a socialist. So was Italy’s Il Duce, Benito Mussolini, who, inspired by Gentile, said “Everything within the state, nothing against the state, nothing outside the state.” He also said “socialism is in my blood.”

So we ask, who is more socialist in this country? Democrats? Or Republicans? It’s not even close.

— Written by the I&I Editorial Board

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I & I Editorial Board

The Issues and Insights Editorial Board has decades of experience in journalism, commentary and public policy.


  • Nice to see this put out on the national stage. I’ve often thought, “who’s the fascist now”, when I read a leftist article. From my college days the fascist dictator I always think of is Spain’s Franco. You brought you some very good points. What’s next? How about should you have an opinion if you don’t know what you’re talking about.

    • Fascism was always left wing, as proclaimed by it’s creator Giovanni Gentile. The notion that it was right wing was itself leftist propaganda – seeking to draw a “moral equivalency” between right and left. That was part of the horseshoe theory of politics – that both ends lie in totalitarianism. It’s bunk, of course.

      Right wing politics are based on Classical Liberalism (Liberty; individual rights; small government; low taxes; the objective rule of law to keep the peace). “Radical right” really isn’t possible – what does “radical liberty” even look like?

      Give that the right end of the spectrum moves towards anarchy (no government at all), that leaves everything else as left wing politics (big government, simply different combinations of abuses / totalitarianism). Same pig, different lipstick.

    • I left out – the rationalization the left used to declare Fascism “right wing” is that, unlike Socialism, individuals can own their own businesses. However, this is a hoax. Speak out against any truly Fascist regime, and your property will be confiscated faster than you can say, “Mussolini!” Thus proving that the so-called “property rights” under Fascism are a sham.

  • well said. One of your best commentaries to date. The Left has put those of us who want to conserve our Constitutional Federal Republic government of Limited and Enumerated Powers and a Bill of Unalienable Rights on defense. They are brilliant.

  • “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.”

    Fascist when saud by Mussolini in a 1923 speech at Brindisi.

    But not fascist when said by John F. Kennedy in a 1960 speech.

    What’s the difference? History. How about learning a bit of history?

  • Folks, you miss the nuance here. Their fascism is merely a bridge to utopia — breaking eggs to make an omlet and all that. The Republican form of fascism is a danger because, being indistinguishable from normal, it could go on forever.

    Do I need the /sarc tag?

    • I’ve often wondered what Leftists are thinking as they gleefully call right wing ideology “fascist.” How do they imagine that small government / low taxes / maximum focus on individual rights / the objective rule of law can lead to a totalitarian society?

      Well, once you drink the Kool-Aid I suppose you imagine anything is possible if your cult leaders say so.

  • More proof that listening to anything Robert Reich says about anything is risky…

    And I would add that, in addition to the term “Fascism” Democrats also have no idea what “Right” and “Left” mean. Keeping in mind that all ‘isms’ (Capitalism; Socialism; Fascism, etc.) have both a social and economic side, Democrats embrace the former and ignore the latter, causing great confusion.

    Coming from the French political tradition “Left” generally meant lasseiz-faire, which means ‘hands off’ or ‘leave it alone.’ The “Right” was more authoritarian in their support of traditional French values. Think “hippies” vs “your parents.” The thing the Democrats fail to mention is that BOTH sides were Socialist economically speaking, each advocating high taxes, heavy regulations, huge government and, by default, less economic freedom for all.

    Fascism, created by Italian philosopher and politician Giovanny Gentile, an avowed Socialist, is an economic model that places government in charge of private industry (think Obamacare) and a social compact that requires the elimination of individual identity where citizens are required to submit entirely to the State (there’s only 1 party that advocates that in the USA.)

    To the authors’ point in this article, very few of the policy goals stated by Republicans for into that economic model. Accordingly, any party that advocates for limited government, low taxes, low regulatory burden and maximum freedom (economic freedom is the only one that really matters – another thing the Dems don’t get) is very far from “Fascist.”

    In other words, in the USA anyway, there literally cannot be such a thing as a “Right-Wing Fascist” and any who refers to a Republican as such is either an ignorant fool (basically everyone in State-sponsored media), a flat-out liar (Robert Reich), or both (elected Democrats and their lackeys).

    Sadly today’s Democrat Party has absorbed many of the worst aspects of Leftist ideology; the economic ruin of Socialism, the social destruction of Communism, the institutional corruption and intolerance of Fascism, and the race-based policies and authoritarianism of Nazism.

    People need to be shown these truths and it must be seen that voting for Democrats – ANY Democrats – is indefensible, illogical, and nearly suicidal.

  • According to Palgraves, fascism is private ownership of productive resources but government control of those resources. Sadly, our country has been marching toward fascism for quite some time.

    • That description of Fascism is actually left wing propaganda. Try criticizing the regime in any truly Fascist society and your “private property rights” will evaporate faster than you can say, “Mussolini!”

      Under Fascism, the means of production are so tightly regulated as to be indistinguishable from government ownership. The sham of “ownership” is really just political cronyism – rewarding those loyal to the regime.

  • BTW, shouldn’t it be that “They make law by fiat, using a “pen and phone” to bypass the constitutional process when it gets in their way….”?

  • FASCISM became famous because of Adolph Hitler. Next came the socialists of Russia, China and many African and South American countries. This show the pure ignorance of today’s socialist in the US. When a liberal attacks Conservatives it is just a coverup of their Socialist or Fascist beliefs.

    • Hitler was a latecomer to (pseudo-) fascism, long long after Mussolini and a group of (not always Italian) artsy thinkers formulated a modern form of Spartan communalism, and dressed it up with total commitment to the state, mmm, the Fatherland. Since it seems to answer the chaos of the fin-de-siecle sense of being aimless and purposeless, a number of serious thinkers came to admire Fascism, ene (or especially) in the US: Charles Lindbergh and Joseph Kennedy gave it a loud voice.

  • Fascism, leftism, communism, socialism, progressivism, Marxism…it’s all the same garbage…a prison where you could be murdered at will if you resist. I wonder is any of them better than the other? Heck NO.

    • Correct. To truly understand the left-right spectrum, it simply requires that you take the David Nolan chart and rotate it clockwise 90 degrees. Left is authoritarianism/totalitarianism (never mind which sort – all are just different lipstick / abuses on the same pig). Right is individual rights / small government. What has been labeled “right wing” by leftists is really Libertarians, for the most part.

  • Fascism is a left wing ideology, as stipulated by Giovanni Gentile, it’s creator. Calling it a “slight modification of Socialism to make it more workable,” it nonetheless has all the characteristics of a left wing / totalitarian government.

  • Democrats can spell Fascist/Fascism but they haven’t a clue what the words mean. Fascism was/is a Leftist ideology. Fascism originally was the Italian national variant of National Socialism. Mussolini, a Marxist, coined the term ‘Fascist’ to reflect on Italy’s Roman heritage as part of Mussolini’s variant of National Socialism. Hitler, a Marxist*, had a German version of National Socialism; the Nazi Party. (The term ‘Nazi’ is an abbreviation of the German term Nationalsozialismus ‘National Socialism’.)
    There is ‘Economic Fascism’ in which “the means of production are nominally privately owned but directed by the State. Private ownership of business is contingent upon submission to the direction and interests of the State.” (“As an economic system, fascism is socialism with a capitalist veneer.”)
    There is ‘Governmental Fascism’ in which “government is led by a dictator who typically rules by forcefully … suppressing opposition and criticism, [and by] controlling all industry and commerce.” There is a lot of overlap in Governmental and Economic Fascism. Hitler’s Germany had the same overlap of a system very (very) much like Fascism**. That overlap can be summed up as “fascism is a coordinated state-corporate system which works to silence all opposition to an autocratic government.”
    The last, and only survivor, of the three Marxist/Fascist National Socialist parties, which existed during WW2, is Liberalism***. Today’s Democratic Party Liberalism represents a fusion of Socialism and Fascism. The Socialist aspect: The Hill – Jul 3, 2018 DNC Chair Tom Perez: [Socialist] Ocasio-Cortez Is “The Future Of Our Party”. The Fascist aspect: Senator Warren’s proposed “Accountable Capitalism Act” It “Requires every large American corporations to obtain a federal charter as a “United States corporation … American corporations with more than $1 billion in annual revenue must obtain a federal charter from a newly formed Office of United States Corporations at the Department of Commerce.” [It] Permits the federal government to revoke the charter of a United States corporation.”
    Where is this going. Who knows. As to how did we get to this: Tom Wolfe, an American journalist and author, once wrote that “the greatest hoax of modern history occurred when Russia’s ruling ‘socialist workers party,’ the Communists, established themselves as the polar opposites of their two socialist clones, the National Socialist German Workers Party (quicknamed ‘The Nazis’) and Italy’s Marxist-inspired Fascisiti. They did so by branding both as Fascists, which quickly led to those two socialist clones as being described, per Stalin’s orders, as Right Wing”.
    * ** Hitler explained Nazism in a speech: “From the camp of “bourgeois right-wing” tradition, it takes national resolve, and from the materialism of the Marxist dogma, living, creative Socialism”. “the common interest before self interest, that is the spirit of the program. Breaking the thraldom (slavery) of (Bank) interest, That is the kernel of national socialism.”
    *** German National Socialist = Nazi
    Italian National Socialist = Fascist
    American National Socialist = Liberal
    “When Fascism comes to America, it will be called anti-Fascism!”
    Former Louisiana Governor Huey Long

  • The term ‘fascism’ is used by the Right as a loose analogy to “Dictator”.
    The term ‘fascism’ is used by the Left to smear anyone who disagrees with them.

    Only after A.H. turned on J.S. in 1941 did communists cement the idea that ‘fascism’ only applies to the political right and thus todays ‘liberal’ is convinced that Germany’s ‘National Socialism’ was not socialism.

    Canadian delegate (future prime minister) Lester Pearson on drafting the UN Declaration of Human Rights:
    … “Fascism is being re-defined by the Soviets to mean a person or idea which is not communist”

  • Understanding Fascism today is complicated by “presentism”: applying 21st century – and in fact 2020s – definitions, to words, and ideas that used to be understood differently in the past. For example let’s take “nationalism” – a word deliberately confused by modern leftists with “chauvinism”. In reality “nationalism” is an opposite of “imperialism”: a political movement trying to achieve self-determination for a subjugated ethnic group or nation. In the early 20th “nationalism” was a left-wing movement and it lead to the end of the Age of Empires and the raise of European democratic nation-states. Therefore there was nothing conservative or “right wing” about Fascists claiming nationalism – if anything it was MORE left wing than Soviet internationalism – very reminiscent of the just-overthrown imperialism (as “internationalism” in Leninism-Stalinism really meant “everything is run by Russians, from Moscow”, as seen in the Soviet Bloc). If anything it is rather bizarre that today “globalism” (yet another word for “imperialism”) is considered “left wing”.

    Also, modern understanding of “left wing” and “right wing” is seriously confused by the American two-party system and declaring that everything Democrats do is “left” and everything Republicans do is “right”. The truth is however that in its original French Revolution meaning it was literally Republicans (people who wanted France to be a Republic) versus Monarchists (no explanation necessary). By this original definition the Founding Fathers were Left Wing – hence the very warm relations between the French Republic and the American Republic in the 19th century. Both pro-Republican and anti-Monarchist. By the early 20th century the definition changed to pro-population versus pro-elite. So policies benefiting the working class and the middle class were considered “left wing”. That was still something very different than “progressive” versus “conservative”, as in fact, the elites had a tendency to be progressive, and the peasantry and workers, to be conservative.

    Italian Fascists were left wing and were considered left wing. Just a different kind of left wing as compared to Soviet Bolsheviks. Mussolini himself said that Fascism is forever left wing and seeks no alliance with capitalists and bourgeoisie, as they are untrustworthy allies of the Labor State, even in the face of the Red Plague (Russian Soviet imperialism).

    • Killing History: The False Left-Right Political Spectrum and the Battle between the ‘Free Left’ and the ‘Statist Left’
      by L.K. Samuels (Author)

      In my view, the spectrum or dichotomy is between Authoritarian Statism (Fascism, Communism, Socialism and any variation) and Constitutional Limited Government of Enumerated Powers, a Bill of Rights, and three co-equal branches.

      Anarchy is unworkable.

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